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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teaching preschoolers about the authors of the books they love

Teaching preschool simply would not be complete without the wonderful books available to young children. There are awesome authors out there writing terrific children's books and it is a good idea to help your preschoolers discover who they are.

Get to know the author first
Before presenting an author to your students, you need to get a feel for who the author is. This will make it more natural for you to have casual conversations with your students about the author. Let me illustrate this a bit further.

Let's say you have a friend who just wrote a new children's book and you can't wait to share it with your students. You would more than likely start by telling the kids that your friend wrote the book. Then you might go on to describe your friend, what he or she is like, why he or she wrote the book, and how the illustrations were created. In other words, if you feel like you know the author, you will want to share some information about the author.

Use the internet to learn about the author
The internet offers great opportunities to get connected with many terrific children's authors. Some authors have websites where they share their books and extra materials. Other authors have even started their own blogs and facebook pages which even give you a more personal perspective.

Eric Carle
Eric Carle is a great example of an author that has given much to the field of early childhood education.  Eric's blog shares simple stories of how or why a book was written. As you read his blog, you gain greater insight into Eric as well as greater insight into the book itself.

One of Eric's latest post talks about he came to write his book "Pancakes, Pancakes". Eric writes, ""My grandmother always had a gift for me. An egg from her chickens, a jar of raspberry jam. She would tell me, "Here, Eric. Have an egg. Give it to your mother to make a pancake for you."" Eric's website offers additional materials and resources.

Denise Fleming
Denise Fleming has a facebook fan page and a website. On Denise's facebook site, she shares short little snippets about her personal life such as she has a dog named Sylvester.

On her website, Denise provides online activities to go along with each of her books as well as an "about" page where you can get to know her a little better.

Just Google it!
There are so many authors out there with websites that this post certainly wouldn't be able to share them all but you can do a simple online search by using the author's name or if you don't know the name, search for the name of the author's book and that will eventually lead you back to the author.

Why is it a good idea to share information about the author with your students?
As preschoolers get to know more about the author, they will develop a greater appreciation for the books in your classroom. It isn't about getting your students to remember a name, it is about introducing a real life person that brings meaningful experiences and words into their lives.

You will not be able to share information about every author you ever read - so don't feel under pressure to do so. Choose authors who have written some of the children's books you value the most and start there. As you do, you will naturally be able to share what you know with your students. Just like introducing an old friend.

Integrating across the curriculum
This is a big fancy way of saying that as you discover more about how an author or illustrator creates his work, you will find ways to expand and integrate those ideas into other areas of your curriculum.

For example, Eric Carle is known for using tissue paper to illustrate his books. As you share this information with your students, you can then add an art activity using tissue paper and help the children connect the dots between the the author/illustrator, the book they have just read, and the possibilities of tissue paper art.

Wrap it Up
Remember, it is great to introduce an author' or illustrator's name but that won't build connections for your preschoolers alone. Take time to discover more so that you can build connections between life and art for your students.

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